Gamer's Piece: A tale of two ‘Walking Dead’ games
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 23:09
Over the summer, there was an announcement of a new “The Walking Dead” videogame from Activision, set for release sometime next year. Players will be able to control the rural badass Darryl and his racist brother Merle in a prequel to the hit TV show.
The first-person shooter is definitely a cool idea. The series is ripe with potential for its own action game, and Darryl isn’t just the show’s most interesting character but the biggest no-brainer candidate for his own action game.
No matter how good “The Walking Dead” ends up being, though, there’s one problem; it’s not the first game based on the famous franchise. There’s already a fantastic adaptation of the material out there. What’s more, it’s available instantly for a very reasonable price.
“The Walking Dead Episode 1” came out in April, to the surprise of many. No one knew how Telltale’s latest adventure game would end up. Would it be great, like their earlier “Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People,” or would it flounder like their “Jurassic Park” and “Back to the Future” attempts, which simply didn’t work when translated into the unique format?
To zombie fans’ relief, not only did “Episode 1” turn out solid, it was even better than expected. The game’s story was excellent, considering it was spun off from the original comic. The prologue, where the main character, Lee, is revealed to be the murderer of his wife’s lover, is not only effective in story-telling, painting a picture of the characters with only the few lines of dialogue in the minute-long scene; it’s also action-packed, with a car crash and a few zombie attacks to get players invested early.
“Episode 1” continued its excellent campaign with a few other great features. Mostly gone are the usual adventure game stand-bys, like impossible puzzles. Here, you’re only made to explore locations, find something and add it to something else. It’s simple, but it makes players investigate the entire scene, which means they’re talking to many of the game’s characters. “Walking Dead” is less of a game and more of an interactive story.
The characters are the real gems. Realistically, emotionally animated and professionally voice-acted, they’re fully-fledged with opinions and needs, and they clash in well-written ways. Add in some gut-wrenching moments involving the seven-year-old girl Lee must protect, and it’s well worth its $5 price tag.
Of course, “Episode 1” is two hours long. Why? There are five episodes in total, and each can be bought as if they were different issues in a comic series. You can pay $5 per episode, or $20 on Playstation Network and Steam for all five, even ones that aren’t out yet. (Xbox Live doesn’t have season passes.) “Episode 2” came out at the end of June, while “Episode 3” hit online stores the last week of August. The final two episodes should come out by the end of the year.
“Episode 2” was even better than “Episode 1,” as it had an even-more compelling story (which was incredibly disturbing). In a particularly interesting section, Lee must pass out the last three pieces of food to fellow survivors, after which players are judged by NPCs for their choices. Telltale nailed the moral dilemmas of a zombie apocalypse in what’s a very emotional, raw, and compelling game. Check it out online.
If you prefer a physical copy, the full five-episode series hits store shelves in December.